Monday, June 13, 2011

755. Best Letter Ever

On May 26th, I talked to high-schoolers. This is some of the feedback I got.


Dear Mr. Dario,

My name is "John Doe" and I'm an alcoholic. Psych, I'm kidding. I was forced to type you a thank you letter by my mean English teacher. Not that I didn't want to because you were funny and informing. By the way, my English teacher picks on me.

You presenting was very informing because you're very inspiring plus I like your beard. And also, my teacher is mean and she beats up on me and makes me cry -- this is all mentally, never physically. Also, you should add me on X-Box live if you play Call of Duty. My name is ... and I'm going into the big leagues.

P.S. You got balls, my friend, for going into the Marines :-)

Love your random audience member,

"John Doe"

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

754. My Personal Essay for The Washingtonian

This is just a snippet. To read the entire article please click the blog headline! And please consider donating to the Anderson-Snyder memorial which is linked to at the end of the story. Semper Fi.

...On a Wednesday night, I finished my shift at the restaurant a little early. That was good—it meant more time for drinking. I stopped at a coworker’s apartment to toss back shots of Jack Daniel’s. Sufficiently buzzed, I drove to the Treehouse, a bar near where I was living in the Baltimore suburbs.

The bartender stood in an opposite corner of the bar chatting with a pretty girl. On the TV above him, a story flashed about a Marine who had died. I tried to read the captions, but my mind was hazy and my eyes were tired. About a year had passed since I’d come home from Iraq in 2004.

The bartender came over without a newly poured beer. He stared at me, rubbing his palms. “Hey, Dario,” he said. “This woman over here just had her husband killed in Iraq. Could you . . . .” He didn’t need to finish.

“What’s her name?” I asked.

“I don’t know.”

I took the long path toward her, curving around the length of the bar. I stepped beside her and she looked at me, confused. A few of her friends were with her; they watched me, too.

“Hey,” I said. “I’m a lance corporal in the Marines. I heard about your loss. I’m here for you.” She closed her eyes. Then she dropped her head into my chest and hugged me. I had no idea what I should do.

“What’s your name?” I asked.

The Marine Corps is small. There are only a few degrees of separation between any two people who wear the olive-drab green. There was a chance I knew her husband.

“Victoria Anderson,” she said. “My husband was Lance Corporal Norm Anderson...”